Today I’ll talk about how healthcare would be handled in a free society, in a way that everyone who needed medical care would receive it. As usual, both the left-wing and the right-wing are wrong when it comes to their societal opinions regarding healthcare.
The Left-Wing View of Healthcare
The left-wing believes that, unsurprisingly, government should provide all healthcare services. American leftists call this “single payer,” that “single” entity being government. Many European countries already have this system, and if you live in Europe, you already know how badly this system works (unless you’re somewhat young and haven’t had any major health problems yet). When government controls all healthcare, things like this are considered normal:
– Waiting months and months for needed surgeries.
– Not being allowed to take certain prescription medicine that may be needed.
– Not being allowed to go to the doctor for checkups and blood tests when you choose.
– Doctors facing criminal charges if they provide healthcare services outside of the government network. (Isn’t that amazing?)
As usual, if you want to screw something up and make it massively bankrupt and inefficient, let the government take control of it.
The argument left-wingers use is that since healthcare is a needed service for all, government should be the sole provider of it to ensure everyone gets it. If this is true, then why doesn’t government control all food? Don’t people need food even more than healthcare? Yes. Then why don’t we turn over all farming and grocery stores to the government, make all food free, and have the government run all of it?
Left-wingers never have an answer for this question, because they know if government took over all food, we’d probably all starve. Left-wingers have this very weird mental block about healthcare, almost identical to how they think making marijuana illegal would never work since government could never enforce such a thing, but somehow government making certain guns illegal would work out fine.
The Right-Wing View of Healthcare
The right-wing view of healthcare is…well…this is a little difficult to describe, since unlike with issues such as taxes or abortion, the right-wing isn’t monolithic about their view on healthcare like the left-wing is. There’s a lot of variation in what conservatives want when it comes to healthcare, and left-wingers are often correct when they say that right-wingers don’t actually have any real solutions in this area.
Speaking very generally, and there are plenty of exceptions to this, right-wingers tend to prefer the horrible type of healthcare we have in the United States. If you ignore what right-wingers say and instead look at what they actually vote for and enact, they clearly favor a heavily corporatist healthcare system with massive insurance companies and HMOs closely tied with big government that regulates the crap out of them and is also their largest purchaser of healthcare services. This results in what we have today in the US, a corporatist nightmare healthcare system that’s hugely bloated, massively overregulated, and most importantly, ridiculously expensive beyond belief for the average person, to the point of being a scam, which it is.
In the US, these two conflicting opinions have created this sick spiral of death, with right-wing corporatists jacking up the cost of healthcare, and left-wing socialists reacting by screaming that since healthcare is so expensive now we need big government to pay for it all.
Which side is right? As usual, neither is. Fortunately, recent history can show us a least-bad third option.
What We Used To Do
Were people complaining that healthcare was shitty and too expensive back in the 1950s? Nope. During the 50s and 60s, American healthcare was not only the best in the world, it was also among the least expensive in the civilized world. Back then:
– Health insurance cost only a few dollars a month, making it affordable to even very poor people, even those with pre-existing conditions.
– Doctors actually, get this, came to your house.
– The typical hospital stay cost just a few days of the average American’s income. (Today it’s many months of your income.)
– The typical major surgery cost less than five weeks of the average American’s income. (Today it’s likely more than you make in a year.)
– 100% free clinics, that had nothing to do with government or taxpayer money, were widely available for the few people so poor they could not afford a doctor.
Sound like an nice healthcare system? It wasn’t perfect, but it was quite good. That’s how the free market works. There was minimal government interference. There weren’t any gigantic, massive HMOs or insurance companies bossing you around. The relationship was pretty much between you and your doctor with no government or big business middleman. It worked well. Not perfect, but well.
So what happened? You know what happened. The right-wingers in government went corporatist and the left-wingers went socialist. Medicare. Medicaid. The HMO Act of 1973. Medicare Part D. Obamacare. Tens of thousands of laws and regulations on doctors, hospitals, healthcare networks, and insurance companies. Government forcing your insurance policy to cover things like mandatory coverage of chiropractors, acupuncture, naturopathy, marriage counseling (even if you’re not married), abortions (even if you’re a man), drug abuse, alcoholism (even if you don’t drink), treatments to stop smoking (even if you don’t smoke), weight loss (even if you’re skinny), pregnancy (even if you’re a man), Christian Science practitioners, and dozens of other possibilities.
And so here we are today. The once fantastic healthcare system (with flaws of course, remember no system is perfect) we had in the 50s and 60s is now a chaotic and inefficient healthcare system where most people can’t afford basic healthcare services unless big government (which caused the problem in the first place) forces their neighbors at gunpoint to pay for their healthcare.
The Skewed Concept of “Insurance”
An important point that is rarely brought up when discussing healthcare is people’s view of what “insurance” is.
Many left-wingers love to say that “many Americans can’t get healthcare because they can’t afford it.” This is false. Under our corporatist healthcare system, hospitals are required by law to treat anyone who comes in for anything, for any reason, no matter what, even if they can’t pay.
I have worked with, known, and dated many people in the healthcare industry. Because of this crazy law, these people tell me that hospitals have “regulars” who come in all the time, often many times a week(!) with some kind of false “problem” they have, and the hospitals are required to take these people in and treat them as if the problems are real. Sometimes these people are bored, sometimes they’re just lonely, and sometimes they’re just assholes. Regardless, these people constantly logjam the emergency room and prevent people with real problems from getting fast care. They also jack up the price of emergency care for everyone, for literally no reason.
The point is, all Americans can get healthcare. The problem is that some can’t get health insurance. The reason health insurance is so expense is for the reasons I outlined above, but there’s a second reason: modern-day Westerners have a vastly skewed perception of what health “insurance” means. Insurance is supposed to mean a system by which you cover major, unexpected expenses that are far beyond your ability to pay out of pocket.
When you buy car insurance, that insurance covers you if you get into a major car accident and suddenly need to whip out $20,000 to buy a new car. You probably don’t have $20,000 laying around, so you spend a small monthly amount (called an insurance premium) to cover you in case this happens. However, you don’t expect your car insurance company to cover the cost of oil changes, brake pads, new shocks, new tires, stains on your car seat, or every little chip and ding in your paint job. That stuff you pay YOURSELF. If you purchased a car insurance policy that literally covered all this extra stuff, the monthly cost would be astronomical, so you don’t do that.
In the world of car insurance, people more or less understand this, but in the world of health insurance, people suddenly think that the insurance must cover absolutely everything that goes wrong with your body at all times, no matter how minor.
Health insurance is used to cover you in case you get cancer and suddenly need to spend $50,000 on surgery or other expensive procedures. Health insurance was never intended to pay for you to run to the doctor for every little ache, pain, sniffle, or cold. There is a huge population of worried, modern day helicopter moms who run their kids down to the doctor every time they have a little sniffle. What do you think this does to the cost of health insurance?
If you want to seek a doctor for these little things, that’s fine, but you need to pay for those things YOURSELF. Hell, insurance shouldn’t even cover things like childbirth. That’s an optional procedure, thus you should pay for that YOURSELF.
And remember, in a 100% free market healthcare system, which we currently do not have, common procedures like childbirth would be very inexpensive and affordable for just about everyone. It would be something you would budget for before having kids, just like how you budget for baby food and diapers.
You can’t point a gun to my head and force me to pay inflated insurance premiums because you want to have three babies while I don’t want any. That’s the current system we have in Europe (government healthcare paid via taxes) and in the US (corporatist healthcare paid via giant insurance companies, linked at the hip to government).
For an effective, inexpensive healthcare system available to everyone, all we need to do is:
1. Go back to the (mostly) free market system we had in the US back in the 50s and 60s.
2. Change our perception of health insurance to only cover major, expensive events that are not optional, while paying all the other stuff ourselves, just like we do with our cars.
Under such a system, healthcare would be so inexpensive, everyone would have access to it (via paying for it themselves, or inexpensive health insurance, or free charity hospitals), and everyone would have the exact type of healthcare and health insurance they wanted.